The pandemic economy is forcing international companies to reevaluate where remote employees are located, according to Mercer’s 26th annual Cost of Living Survey.
“As (companies) leverage new working arrangements, changing technology, and adaptive ways of thinking,” Mercer said in a recent research summary, “they are considering alternate forms of international assignments in addition to traditional mobility programs to sustain their overseas operations and workforces.”
Mercer is a financial services company with more than 25,000 people in 44 countries, so its analysts are well-suited to evaluate the livability of various international cities.
“The COVID-19 pandemic reminds us that sending and keeping employees on international assignments is a huge responsibility and a difficult task to manage,” explained Ilya Bonic, Mercer’s career president and head of strategy. “Rather than bet on a dramatic resurgence of mobility, organizations should prepare for the redeployment of their mobile employees, leading with empathy and understanding that not all expatriates will be ready or willing to go abroad.”Mercer also said that once the COVID-19 crisis has passed, international businesses are still going to have to navigate a “new approach to global mobility,” which may have far-ranging implications on talent, production and ultimately corporate risk and mitigation.
“Border closings, flight interruptions, mandatory confinements, and other short-term disruptions have affected not only the cost of goods and services but also the quality of living of assignees,” Bonic continued. “Climate change, issues related to environmental footprint, and health system challenges have pushed multinationals to consider how a city’s efforts around sustainability can impact the living conditions for their expatriate workers. Cities with a strong sustainability focus can greatly improve living standards, which can, in turn, improve employee well-being and engagement.”